Sotheby's launches new boutique online auctions

Sotheby's Hong Kong has announced a series of boutique online auctions, dubbed "Contemporary Showcase," which are slated for the spring and summer of 2020.

This series of themed sales adopts a dynamic "pop-up shop" concept, with bidding open for up to one week.

Each pop-up auction, or Showcase, offers an assemblage of works aligned to a curatorial theme, such as Western contemporary art and mangas.

The first installment of "Contemporary Showcase" is grounded thematically by the title of Tracey Emin's 1933 neon work "Another World," which carries an estimate between HK$500,000 and HK$700,000 (around $64,500 and $90,300).

Each lot on offer in "Another World" probes at "the imaginative, restorative and escapist possibilities of the figurative image," according to Sotheby's.

This selection of Western contemporary art is led by Sanya Kantarovsky's "Contamination," which exemplifies the acclaimed style and signature offbeat dark humor of the Russian-born artist.

The painting is expected to go under the hammer between HK$850,000 and HK$1.2 million (around $109,650 and $154,800) -- a pre-sale high estimate under Kantarovsky's current record price of $185,560 set in October 2019 by "Lavender Arrest."

While "Another World" is running until May 4, the second installment of "Contemporary Showcase" will open for bidding the following day on May 5.

"Contemporary Showcase: Manga" will present the largest Manga assemblage ever to be offered at auction in Hong Kong, offering collectors the opportunity to acquire 60 drawings and original Animation Celluloid Pictures by prestigious animation houses like Studio Ghibli and Toei Animation.

The most coveted lot of the auction is a 1978 calendar cover of "Astro Boy and Flying Horse" signed by manga artist Osamu Tezuka, which is expected to fetch between HK$350,000 and HK$550,000 (around $45,150 and $70,950).

Another highlight of "Manga" is an original drawing of a phoenix by Osamu Tezuka, which carries an estimate between HK$200,000 and HK$400,000 (around $25,800 and $51,600).

Apart from the 60 works offered during the online auction, an additional 95 pieces will be presented in a selling exhibition at Sotheby's Hong Kong Gallery.

As millions of people are prevented from traveling due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Sotheby's has created an interactive virtual tour for the "Manga" selling exhibition, offering potential buyers the opportunity to step inside the works on display at the house's Hong Kong gallery.

"Contemporary Showcase" is the latest initiative launched by Sotheby's as part of its digital auction program, which has brought in more than $50 million in the past four months.

"Contemporary Art" achieved over HK$10 million earlier this April, surpassing by over 300% its pre-sale low estimate and growing over 670% in value since it was first launched by Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2018.

"During this unprecedented time, Asian collectors have enthusiastically participated in our online sales programme, driving record results that demonstrate the resilience of the Contemporary Art market," Yuki Terase, Head of Contemporary Art, Asia of Sotheby's, said in a statement.

"Our new 'Contemporary Showcase' series responds to this success, and we are confident that the new initiative will bring new and exciting opportunities for our audiences, both in Asia and worldwide," he added.